Broadalbin-Perth softball coach Garry Roorda knows how to motivate a team.
Promise them you’ll cut something.
It’s not a new strategy, by any means. A shorn scalp is the norm, and was employed by Northville boys’ basketball coach Ryan Gander this past winter. But Roorda has improved on the old standard.
In 2005, he promised he would cut not his hair, but his ear. He didn’t go as far as Vincent VanGogh, he simply cut a little hole in his ear and stuck an earring in it. His team had to win sectionals to earn the earring.
The team followed with a regional title, which put the shears in their hands to shave every hair off Roorda’s head in front of the entire student body at a pep rally.
Except for the mustache.
This year’s team carried a 1-2 overall record when the players asked him for a challenge during a team dinner April 17. He told them if they won the next day, when they hosted Gloversville, he would shave off his signature mustache. They won 10-2.
“I’ve had it forever,” Roorda said. “I didn’t remember what I looked like without it.”
He said it’s just a mustache and it’ll grow back. But it hasn’t yet. It hasn’t even started. He’s kept his upper lip as smooth as a nicely-turned 5-4-3 double play.
The girls said he doesn’t look very different without the ‘stache. They said he looks younger.
When I saw him for the first time, I lied straight to his face.
“You don’t look that different.”
Maybe he’s just leaving it clean as a reminder to the team that they can play well when determined and focused on the task at hand, for whatever ulterior motive they may have besides simply winning.
The Lady Patriots are now 6-8-1 overall and 6-6 in the Foothills Council. They need one win in their final two games, or a sympathetic sectional committee, to get into the sectional bracket.
If the team wins two sectional games, reaching the semifinals and moving past where they finished last year, Roorda has vowed to ...
Well, he’s not saying exactly what he told the team he’d do. We’ll all just have to wait for the curtain to go up on that surprise, but it will likely be something either appearance-altering or slightly humiliating.
Maybe he’ll commandeer the school’s PA system one morning and start singing “Take me out to the ball game.” If the morning wouldn’t work, then he could sing it during whatever translates to the seventh-inning stretch of the school day. That would be humiliating enough, and thoroughly amusing for the girls on the team to sit there listening to. Everyone could sing along.
He already shaved his head once, so doing it again wouldn’t be original enough. Maybe he’ll shave the team’s record into the side of his head. Both sides, like a helmet.
Maybe another piercing. Probably not a lip ring. I haven’t seen too many teachers with those. It’s just hard to take a person seriously if you’re distracted by a bunch of metal accessories punched into their face.
It may be as simple as Roorda donning a girls’ batting helmet and cleats and click-clacking through the halls for a week.
The final challenge he issued for the 2005 team may shed some light on this mystery.
If the 2005 team won a state title, he promised them he would get a tattoo.
There was no discussion of what or where, but he was willing to go that far for a state championship.
That team led 2-1 in the seventh inning of semis, but lost 3-2.
Don’t expect a tat unless they make it to or win the finals, though an inked-in mustache to replace the one he shaved would be something to see.
Either Groucho Marx-style mustache or a Rollie Fingers handlebar.
He won’t look that different.
Bill Cain is a sports reporter for The Leader-Herald. We invite your feedback on this or any other sports-related topic. E-mail your opinions or ideas to us at firstname.lastname@example.org'>email@example.com.